Driscoll dialysis patients sent to Valley before hurricane

Katie Olivera, Child Life Specialist at the McAllen clinic (from left), Jaden Maldonado and Jon Jon Soy, RN at the McAllen clinic, play cards during dialysis treatment at Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center in McAllen. Jaden and three other dialysis patients were transferred from Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center in Corpus Christi out of the possible path of Hurricane Harvey.

Teamwork between Driscoll Children’s Hospital employees in two cities during Hurricane Harvey ensured the well-being of children who depend on their dialysis treatments to survive.

Moved out of harm’s way to McAllen, four Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center dialysis patients were safe from the chaos occurring throughout the Coastal Bend because of the hurricane’s wrath. Medical staff had the children’s safety and well-being as their top priority and focused their efforts on  giving them their life-saving dialysis treatments.

In preparation for Hurricane Harvey, the pediatric dialysis patients from Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center in Corpus Christi on Aug. 24 were transferred to Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center in McAllen, where the Driscoll Valley staff welcomed them with open arms. Joining the patients were Belinda LaVake, RN, and Lydia Vela, RN, two Certified Dialysis Nurses from the Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center.

“As Driscoll employees, we help each other through thick and thin,” said Krystle Tamez, RN, CDN, Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Clinical Coordinator.

Such teamwork was evident as staff from both clinics worked closely together to ensure the safety of their patients. A total of five dialysis patients were transferred out of the possible path of the storm, with one family choosing to go to San Antonio.

LaVake and Vela volunteered to ensure the patients sent to McAllen received the critical care they needed.

“We sent the staff that the patients are comfortable and familiar with, to feel as much at home as possible,” said Samhar Al-Akash, MD, Medical Director, Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center and Renal Transplantation. “We took all the preparations we felt were necessary and got our patients to safety.”

Mom Serena Barragan (left) and Lydia Vela, RN at Driscoll Children’s Kidney Center (right) , were there to look after the needs of Aubrey Lynn Mora as she received her dialysis at the McAllen clinic.

In McAllen, the Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center nurses and Child Life Specialist Katie Olivera, MS, CCLS, helped ensure the patients were having fun during such a stressful time. The patients’ mothers also were there to offer support. It was important that the patients and their families be together.

“Parents were partners with us, because they trusted us. They wanted their children to continue treatment at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. That is why we kept them in the Driscoll system during such a difficult time,” said Dr. Al-Akash. “It was such a relief for them to know that their children were still being treated by Driscoll.”

The patients received their dialysis treatments Friday, Aug. 25, and Monday, Aug. 28, leaving the McAllen clinic and returning home after their Monday treatment.

First and foremost in the thoughts of everyone was providing excellent care for the patients during a crisis situation.

Aubrey Lynn Mora sleeps peacefully while receiving her dialysis treatment at Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center in McAllen.

“The babies did well at the McAllen clinic. I feel it helped that Lydia and I were there; otherwise, they would have been anxious and fussy with staff they do not know,” said LaVake. “The Driscoll McAllen staff were spot on, professional and friendly. Dialysis is the same and charting is the same so there was no change of work flow.”

“I think both staffs worked excellent together,” said Britt Stone, RN, BSN, CNN, Dialysis Manager for Driscoll Children’s Hospital Dialysis Unit and for Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center. “The sense of teamwork was phenomenal, but that is what we would expect to see at Driscoll.”

“The high spirits, putting patients’ best interest above your own, and going the extra mile to help those you care for by our staff make them extraordinary, and makes Driscoll very proud of the exemplary display of the Driscoll Way at its best,” added Dr. Al-Akash.

“I was glad that we as a team were able to make a difference in our patients’ lives by not only providing great care but providing a safe environment,” said Vela. “I am grateful for the Driscoll McAllen nurses, as well as the other nephrology staff members who opened their doors and were able to make this happen.”

Staff at the Driscoll McAllen clinic did what was needed to be done, including changing the treatment times of their own patients to accommodate the Corpus Christi patients.

“Our Driscoll McAllen staff did a great job making the Corpus Christi nurses, patients and parents feel welcomed and comfortable. We were happy to help in any way we could,” said Tamez.

Serena Barragan watches over daughter Aubrey Lynn Mora while receiving her dialysis treatment at Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center in McAllen.
Dean Loera sleeps peacefully while receiving his dialysis treatment at Driscoll Children’s Valley Dialysis Center in McAllen.